Essay on the Nature of Adult Education in India Before Independence

Before Independence:

In 1930-40 the adult education programme took a new turn. A movement was launched in every province by which efforts were made that every literate person should make an illiterate literate.

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Uttar Pradesh:

The adult education department was established in this province in the year 1930. With the formation of the Congress Ministry in the year 1937 the programme of adult education was pursued with renewed vigour.

Night schools were opened in a large number. New literacy centres, libraries and reading- rooms were established and a decision was taken to observe a ‘literacy day’ and a literacy week’ every year.

On the occasion of the first ‘literacy day as many as 768 libraries and 2,600 reading-rooms were opened in various villages of U.P. Forty libraries were also set up for women in 1940. In the year 1941-42, 272 more libraries were opened. In this very year 50 women welfare centres in Faizabad district were given a grant of Rs. 500 each and the government published books on such subjects as Hindi, Urdu, geography, history, arithmetic and arts for the use of adult.



The Punjab Government sanctioned a grant of Rs. 28,800 in their first plan towards the literacy movement. With this money new schools were set up and aid was given to the existing institutions. Their number at that time was 201. The learn and make other learn’ movement spread vigorously in the Punjab.


In Bihar under the leadership of Dr.Syed Mahmood some volunteers launched the ‘make your home literate’ movement with vigour as a result of which nearly 24,289 adults were made literate during 1941-42.


For this every purpose the ‘Provincial Public Education Committee’ was appointed. The most outstanding feature of the Bihar movement was that it continued even during the war years and every year nearly two lakh men were made literate.

During 1942-43, nearly 1, 11,000 adults passed the post-literacy test. This work was taken up with new zeal when the Congress ministry again took over the reins of the government in 1946.


No noteworthy progress in this sphere was made in Orissa. Only 425 adult’s literacy centres were opened during 1940-41 where 8,147 adults received education.


Adult education in Bengal was under the Rural Reconstruction Department. In its curriculum subjects like animal husbandry, agriculture, hygiene, co-operation and others subjects related to village life were included and every subject was taught under the supervision of the officer-in charge connected with it. In this way adult education made rapid strides amongst the farmers in Bengal.


In the province of Assam adult education department was set up under the charge of Public Literacy Officer. Under the direction of this Officer nearly 1,200 study centres were established in Assam. During 1941 a post-adult education programme was implemented for those who had learnt the ordinary alphabets. Books and newspapers suited to their standard were published and reading-rooms catering to their taste were organised.


The Bombay government established a Provincial Education Board in 1927. The government introduced the system of liberal grants for this work. The first Congress Ministry did praiseworthy work in the sphere of adult education.

A sum of Rs. 50,000 was granted in 1942-43 for rural areas. In 1945 the government opened adult education centres at selected places and decided to spend Rs. 9,400 yearly on a centre.

The target for each centre was to educate one thousand persons every year. An ‘Adult Education Committee’ was also established in Bombay city. Good progress was recorded in the city through this committee.

Native States:

In the Mysore State the ‘Mysore State Literacy Council’ did commendable work. The Mysore University also did good work. Some progress was made in the sphere of adult education in Sind and some other states.

Nearly, 4,050 adult education centres were opened in the Jammu and Kashmir State and about 28,000 persons passed out of these centres as literate. Literacy as compared to that in British India was higher in Percentage in Baroda and Travancore States. In the hilly areas literacy efforts were greatly concentrated on the backward tribes.

After the attainment of freedom in 1947 the leaders of the county, having realised the importance of education and in the light of experience gained from the adult education movements during 1921-47, made efforts to raise resources to solve difficulties and problems that arose during these years.

Sufficient literature was produced and a new system of teaching this particular literature was evolved. By then everybody had fully realised that the education of adults was necessary for the country’s welfare so that the people might understand the various plans prepared for the uplift of the society and co-operate in implementing them.

This aim could not be realised by simple literacy only and higher education up-to some extent was necessary for adults. Adult education was, therefore, patterned on the ideal of social education.


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